Mute SwanCygnus olor

adult
Rob Curtis/VIREO
immature (1st fall)
Arthur Morris/VIREO
adults
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult female with cygnets
John Cancalosi/VIREO
adult male and female
Rob Curtis/VIREO
Mute Swan

Description

58-60" (1.47-1.52 m). W. 7'11" (2.4 m). Adults all white; bill orange with black knob at base. Young birds similar but dingy gray-brown, becoming whiter with age. The Mute Swan holds its neck in a graceful curve; native swans hold their necks straight up.

Voice

Usually silent, but utters hissing and barking notes. A loud trumpeting call is rarely heard; wings make loud whirring sound in flight.

Listen

snort & growl

Habitat

Ponds, rivers, coastal lagoons, and bays.

Range

Introduced from Europe into northeastern United States; resident and most common in southern New England, southeastern New York, New Jersey, and Maryland; also established locally in Michigan.

Discussion

With its wings arched over its back and its neck in a graceful S-curve, the male is extremely handsome on the water. Breeding pairs are highly aggressive and will defend the nest and young against all comers, using their powerful wings and strong bills to drive away other waterfowl and even humans.

Nesting

4-6 gray or blue-green eggs in a huge mound-like nest lined with feathers and down, conspicuously placed at the edge of a pond or marsh.

Similar Species

adult male and female with cygnets

Trumpeter Swan

60-72" (1.5-1.8 m). One of North America's largest birds. Adult similar to Tundra Swan but larger, with all-black bill. Young birds dusky gray-brown; bill pink with black base and tip.

adult

Tundra Swan

48-55" (1.2-1.4 m). The most common swan in the West and the only native swan in the East. Large, all white; bill black, usually with small yellow spot in front of eye.

adults

Whooper Swan

56-70" (142-178 cm). A very large swan, similar in size, shape, and head and bill profile to Trumpeter Swan.

Vireo

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